In Support of LD 1674

Testimony of Nancy Smith, Executive Director of GrowSmart Maine in support of LD 1674, An Act to Require and Encourage Safe and Interconnected Transportation Construction Projects

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April 27, 2023

Senator Chipman, Representative Williams, and Honorable Members of the Joint Standing  Committee on Transportation

My name is Nancy Smith, I live in Ellsworth,  and I am the CEO of GrowSmart Maine. We are a statewide non-partisan non-profit organization helping communities navigate change in alignment with smart growth.  We advocate for comprehensive policies and funding for smart growth practices and outcomes. 

We have partnered with Build Maine to guide a transparent crowd-sourcing of policy proposals that began a year ago, and has drawn together over a hundred people from across Maine and beyond. Policy Action 2023 has resulted in sixteen proposals from eight working groups, all addressing the shared goal, “to address barriers to and create incentives for equitable, sustainable growth and development that strengthens downtowns and villages of all sizes while pulling development pressure away from productive and open natural areas. We do so acknowledging that Maine has urban, rural, and suburban settings for which any solution may or may not be a fit and a variety of people who deserve to be welcomed to their communities.”

GrowSmart and Build Maine are in support of LD 1674 because it aligns with several of the transportation bills that are a part of Policy Action 2023. This bill focuses on context-sensitive design approaches for road projects of over $500,000, to shift transportation planning to a more interdisciplinary activity that puts safety for all roadway users at the forefront, and contemplates land use and economic value as a fundamental aspect of street design. 

By evaluating transportation investments in this way, Maine can prioritize funding projects that create economic value, promote housing, and preserve open spaces.  These considerations are critical to ensuring that the state is investing in projects that address multiple problems at once, and reduce unintended consequences that have long-term costs associated with them. 

GrowSmart and Build Maine will assist the committee in any way that is helpful as you consider the variety of interrelated bills this session, because these issues have significant impact across Maine.